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Waukesha parade suspect intends to change plea to not guilty by reason of mental disease

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Darrell Brooks in court

WAUKESHA (WKOW) — The attorney for the man accused of killing six and injuring more than 60 others at the Waukesha Christmas parade says the defendant intends to change his plea. 

The attorney for Darrell Brooks, 40, of Milwaukee stated at a hearing Monday he will be requesting a psychiatric evaluation for his client, as Brooks now wishes to change his plea to not guilty by reason of mental disease. 

This statement came at the end of a hearing regarding a motion to change the venue of the trial. 

Brooks is charged with more than 80 crimes in connection to the tragedy, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He is accused of driving through a crowd of people watching the parade. 

Judge Jennifer Dorow denied a motion from Brooks' defense team to move the trial out of Waukesha County and denied a motion to pull jurors from a county other than Waukesha at Monday's hearing. She granted, in part, a request to sequester the jurors. The jury will meet at an undisclosed location each day to be transported to the courthouse but will return home each night. 

At the hearing, his attorneys continued to say Brooks won't get a fair trial in Waukesha County, claiming too many people have a connection to the case.  

Ahead of this hearing, about 1,600 questionnaires with 115 questions were sent to potential jurors. Those responses were turned over to the judge, attorneys for the state and attorneys for the defense.  

Dorow said she is confident an impartial jury can be found and spoke of extra steps the court has taken to ensure a fair trial. These steps include  the following:

  • An expanded jury pool
  • Two days of time set aside in August for parties to discuss the questionnaire sent to potential jurors where jurors can be struck for cause with no limitations on strikes
  • 10 peremptory strikes
  • Unlimited time to empanel a jury
  • A modified sequestration requirement

Dorow intends to sit 16 jurors, 12 of whom will deliberate for a verdict at the end of the trial. 

She said the defense will have another opportunity to raise the issue of venue. 

Brooks' trial is set to take place throughout the month of October, although in a previous hearing, Dorow said the trial could start as late as November. 

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